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August 26, 2016

Sub-Saharan Africa: Three Cheers for Tourism

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Tourism Month has arrived once again, and with it comes the opportunity to leave your couch and explore the incredible beauty – natural, historical and cultural – South Africa has to offer. September is an important month particularly for the tourism industry, as it provides the sector with a chance to showcase the country as a holiday destination to locals who might never have explored their homeland before. South Africa celebrates the month under the theme ‘Tourism For All’, which is in line with the World Tourism Day theme: ‘Tourism For All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’. 

“Promoting universal access has become a critical component in the global tourism industry as it allows more people to participate and enjoy tourism,” says Trevor Bloem, Chief Director of Communications for the National Department of Tourism. “In South Africa, the theme of universal access goes a step further as it promotes tourism to all South Africans irrespective of gender, race and living standards measurement. The Department would like all South Africans to experience tourism and benefit from its activities.”

Opportunities in Tourism

A number of business opportunities exist in the tourism sphere, not least of these in various established tourism routs across South Africa. There are also opportunities in the value chain, where suppliers offer goods and services to the tourism sector. An example of this is fresh produce, tour guiding or accommodation facilities. Local businesses can also benefit from annual events and festivals. 

According to Bloem, the Department of Tourism also has a range of initiatives in place to advance the sector. In the 2015/16 financial year, they introduced the Tourism Incentive Programme Support to improve market access for tourism businesses and encourage tourism grading. The Enterprise Development Programme provides technical support to tourism SMMEs through market access training. The Supplier Development Programme matches suppliers to tourism businesses, while the Social Responsibility Implementation enhances product offerings. 

Tourism Month Highlights

During Tourism Month, South Africa will focus its attention on the Free State and all it has to offer travellers. Says Bloem: “The month-long programme will start in Xhariep, showcasing the Xhariep Dam and other spectacular sights in the area. One of the highlights of the month will be World Tourism Day on 27 September 2016 which will take place in Parys, Free State, and will include a number of exciting activities for those attending the celebration.” 

A public lecture is also scheduled at Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein on 26 September. This is where Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom will deliver the keynote address. “It will be an opportunity for academia, experts and tourism stakeholders to share ideas on Universal Accessibility,” says Bloem. 

The National Tourism Career Expo (NTCE) will once again take place, this time at Sand Du Plessis in Bloemfontein from 29 September to 1 October 2013. This is the largest tourism education event in SA and addresses the challenges the industry faces in the supply of skills. “The NTCE targets high school learners from Grade 9 to 12, TVET colleges’ learners, university students and unemployed tourism graduates,” Trevor Bloem explains, “There will be approximately 50 exhibitors mainly from the tourism and hospitality industry and tertiary institutions offering tourism courses.”

Tourism is a major player in its contributions to the economy and is recognised as a job creation sector. Although the market share is difficult to predict over a 10-year period, Bloem says “great potential exists in the Asian market”, particularly because of the sheer number in travellers especially from China

“By increasing tourism growth over the next decade one can expect to see local economies benefit through the tourist spend in the areas which should support jobs in local tourism establishments, profit margins and sustainability…there is great potential in the development of routes which cut across provinces, and regions and will include rural and small towns.”

Fast Facts

•    Tourism contributed 2.9% (R111-billion) to SA’s GDP in 2014 (Statistics South Africa, 2016)
•    The tourism sector directly employed 680 817 persons in 2014, an increase of #.8% (25 230 employees) compared with 2013 (Statistics South Africa, 2016)
•    SA’s tourism economy is forecasted to contribute R386 billion (9.5%) to the country’s GDP in 2016, which is a 3% increase compared with projected 2015 figures (WTTC, 2016)
•    In 2016, tourism will provide an estimated 729 551 direct jobs (WTTC, 2016)
•    When indirect and induced jobs are added, a total of over 1.5 million jobs will be linked to the tourism industry, representing 9.8 percent of all employment in South Africa in 2016 (WTTC, 2016)

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